Thursday, December 27, 2007

X-mas with the Binges

I always rejected the idea that you had to do something on a particular day.
That was so 20's. Now I mark days like Syba marks hedges and snake grass. And we don't need to agree about what that day means to us. For some it means a birth, to others the marking of winter, and to still others a time of Toys R Us and new books you'll never read. To me it means that the Charlie Brown Christmas special will be on, and I get to watch It's a Wonderful Life and cry. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I get to sing/scream Christmas songs around the piano. Thanks Durham friends.

It's also a time of cookies, chocolate, and new recipes. It was in this spirit that I asked Rob to pick out a couple of recipes he'd like to try for x-mas eve-eve and x-mas eve, both from Vegan Lunchbox. For eve-eve he chose Fish Sticks. I made some tartar sauce to accompany them out of veganaise, relish, & mustard, as well as some tahini slaw. The recipe made a lot of breading and batter, so I used the extra & made zucchini tempura. It was quite good - though I think I preferred the zucchini to the tofu fish sticks. Next time I'd freeze the tofu first, and marinade & sear it before battering. Or I'd just use vegetables.

Between the two meals, we also received not one but two boxes of vegan chocolate from Rob's kind sister Jamie. Well, one was from her and the other was a bonus. We ate them too fast.

The second recipe Rob picked out was Pot Roast. I was skeptical because I've found the perfect seitan recipe already. But you know, Rob seemed to really want this, and he doesn't ask for much. 'Cept for pumpkin pie, biscuits & gravy, tofu scrambles. OK, so he does ask for things, but I guess I wanted to make it too. Here it is, simmering in the broth for 45 minutes.

I was thinking about how "you were born old" can be both a compliment and an insult. On It's a Wonderful Life, I think it was, someone said "You were born old." But he meant it in a good way - as in mature, responsible, before his time, an old soul. It implied depth. It can also mean death to adventure, however. (Parenthetical comment: I'm listening to Our Life is Not a Movie but Maybe by Okkervil River right now and it is just perfect for fast-typing. Try it.) Someone who is the stereotypical old - inactive, inside, boring. Stereotypical because not all old people are old. It's an unfortunate stigma attached to folks of earth-length. I am sure I'll be fighting this assumption if I live a few more decades. Many aged folks are fun, into contemporary music or books, or conversely, still excited about old music or books, like to go out, philosophize, and have a few glasses of wine. Mind you, these are not the only forms of adventure - they speak to the common premise of being open to something new and continuing to enjoy life. I know folks in their late 20s that are older than others in their 7th decade.

Why am I blabbering on about this? I was thinking about how I should be open to another seitan recipe besides my own cherished version. Otherwise I'd be stuck in my ways like seitan dough sticks to the sides of my bowls. And I'm so glad I tried it. My only complaint was the carrots (and potatoes I added) did not get as soft as I like, so I had to bake them separately with some of the broth on a higher temperature in the oven. But let me tell you, folks, this pot roast was creepily pot roasty. I think Rob actually danced when he ate it. It even looked bloody, which isn't a plus, but there is something thrilling in reproducing life even if it is mimicking death.

When omnivorous types ask why veg folk want to eat faux meat (though some veg'ers do not eat it) I always answer that it's not the TASTE we're against, it's the lifelong imprisonment and killing thing. But a new level of levelness is added when we are talking about recreating meat. You feel a Gawd-like sense of accomplishment. Even though it was a recipe. Anyone can go buy a chunk of flesh...but to reproduce it is a whole other thing. That's why scientists were so fascinated with cloning. For awhile. I haven't heard much on that lately.

Speaking of vegan stuff, Syba was not left out on x-mas and enjoyed this Nylabone of veg origin. Greco got catnip and all was quiet. And I didn't make them wear the bows for too long. Just long enough to be adorable. Rob got biscuits & gravy and I even sprinkled cayenne powder on top for the season.

So it's still the drought here in Durham and much of the SE. Even before the drought we neglected an important aspect of gardening (the watering part) so Rob was surprised to find a lone carrot that survived in our "garden." He was so happy that he plucked it from our dry soil and planted it in a formerly alive houseplant pot.

One tip for lazy gardeners: Kale. Rob only dropped some seeds sometime last spring. We continue to reap, as the gardening term goes, his sowing (sewing?). It's January and we're going to the backyard and scissoring the stuff and using it for lettuce, in stir fries, and in kale-a-kopita. Crazy.

We also got more chocolate and lots of vegan lip balm. We'll be fat and have soft lips. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

i hate pumpkin pie

But Rob loves it. So I made him a surprise pie today. I didn't realize it was supposed to sit overnight to firm up. But we had a warm slice anyway, complete with this awesome vegan whip cream.

Syba's such a good sport. In the background, please note our tree, recreated from last year's, but with more hair. Also note my nephew sitting with Santa.

The picture of Syba was taken yesterday. Today, she took her revenge by disappearing a whole package of Apple Sage Field Roast that I carelessly left on the table. Usually she doesn't high-eat when I'm around, but apparently this has changed.

I only found the paper wrapper on her bed, which was askew, from trying to get the package open, apparently.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Butternut Soup-n-Bread bowl

I know it sort of looks like a heart on top, but I didn't mean it. Though I was feeling something one might call love toward this little comforting bowl with inserted squash soup.

I've never been a fan of squash, take the name for instance. It reminds me of the end result of things like fly swatters and shoe steppings.

But I'm feeling seasonal lately, which seems like a good idea. And butternut has a nice ring to it. I'll try other winter squash too. I just read that "winter" squash is not named for its season but for its longevity ... which makes sense given I've been staring at the ugly things on my counter for weeks and they haven't mutated a bit.

For this soup, I first peeled the raw butternut squash and cubed it. I removed the seeds and roasted them. I sauteed the cubes with onion and a cubed, peeled yam. I think next time I'd roast it instead. Then I added water and spices. While the soup was sqishing and squashing, I baked some bread, shaping two parts of the dough into the ball shape that would make a good bowl. Baked, it looked like this:
Then I cut out the top.

And there it was. The bread top cutout was perfect to dip in Earth Balance melty goodness.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


We attended the Pride parade within a week of our arrival to Durham in September 2005. Beyond the obvious reasons of expressing support for equal rights, attending was sort of a way to assess the place and figure out what sort of a town we decided to move to.

We must have missed the parade, or it has gotten a whole lot better since then, cause let me tell you, there was not enough Pride in 2005. We hung out on 9th street and there were maybe a few people and a couple of little lame float things. Maybe they were cars. It was after this that I turned to Rob and said, "Let's move to Philadelphia." Subsequently we learned more about Durham -- which is one of the most liberal, humble, interesting places I've been -- and stayed. Lucky for us because Pride 2007 was much better.

The Scene of the Crime Rovers marched for the event.

See if you can spot Rob in his pink onesy. He tried to find his Spring onesy, but no luck, so he sweated it out in the winter onesy. I'm going to see how many times I can say onesy.

Syba wasn't too fond of the yelling but stayed proud, nonetheless.

If you were having trouble seeing the onesy in the other picture, here it is here. Notice the high elastic pant line. If you are looking for one yourself, we lucked out in Thriftworld's women's pajama section. The socks are mine.

Here we have what we call a mish-mash of miscellaneous food...this happens when I need to go grocery shopping and there isn't much left around the house. Some bok-choy salad with tahini dressing, and a tofu open-face thingy with marinaded portobellos. And avacado w/lemon & paprika. And of course, Love.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Birthdays and Extinction

OK. I don't like birthdays or other forced / planned celebrations. But I do like birthday cake. And good friends who make cakes and nice things. Hot damn, what a great cake. This was made by the talented Bonnie of Sequoya. She is a baker/artist/musician/claymation-movie-maker. That's a lot of things, all expressed in this cake.
There was even raspberry filling, as pictured here.

I didn't want to eat this cake at first, because, well, you know, it's real pretty and all that. But my appetite for sweet cakes overcame that barrier and I was off and running for a spoon. Because spoons are way better for frosting-eating.

I also got this cool thingy handmade by my good friend/artist/tap dancer Lynn of Seattle. I can only describe it as Binge's mascot in sweet granny form. I attached two pictures so you can see the awesome red backing she added. Kind of makes me want to be barbie-sized so I could use it as a blanket in winter time.

Also got some cool stationary for my letter writing campaign ... which stopped after three letters, I think...possibly due to not receiving any letters back.

Rob picked me up a CD I wanted since I saw the Screaming Females, namely their excellent album What if Someone is Watching Their TV? I haven't seen a band like this in a long time. Damn. Sort of a seitan saute with hendrix, white stripes, the minutemen, and something new all together in a demanding/commanding mix of kids young enough to be my teenage regrets. But I wouldn't regret them. They tour all the time so check them out.

Speaking of pregnancy, I read a review of this book a few weeks back in the NY book review, and Rob remembered my enthusiasm for the topic & picked it up - The World Without Us. It's a non-fiction look at what would happen to the planet if humans were no longer on it. Great for celebrating dates of birth!

I think the NY subways flood, and there is some nuclear spouting, but after all that the darned planet recovers, all green and chirping. Alan suggests that folks limit their kids to one, unlike the group he contacted for the book, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

In case this book depresses me, I also got a wonderful certificate to the Regulator from Shayne & Catherine.

Folks sure are nice, even to someone who doesn't really like birth days.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So we are in phase two, or II, of a drought. These are some recommendations from the City:
  1. Reduce toilet flushing to the minimum, whenever practical.
  2. Water the lawn only when grass shows signs of withering; water late in day after 6 p.m. if possible.
  3. Limit car washing at home.
  4. Limit washing down sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other hard surfaces.
  5. Use biodegradable, disposable dishes and utensils (residential and commercial) where feasible.
Um... I guess I'm always in Phase II. At least parts of it. Here are Binge Cafe's *official recommendations* for always:
  1. Yellow = mellow. Brown = flush down, if it's a pound.*
  2. Water lawn? What is this, the 80's?
  3. If you wash your car, make sure you have driven it into a lake first.
  4. Has anyone ever heard of a broom? (I also speak to you "leaf blowers" out there most emphatically).
  5. Save water, increase landfill. Not sure how this stacks up since we're talking biodegradable ware, but I do know there is a great company, Green Earth Office Supply that produces potato forks and crazy corn ware.
Speaking of the environment, the NY Times covered VO's campaign in an article here addressing the recent UN study that a fork (biodegradable or no) contributes more to global warming than a car:

More on their campaign:

* I made up the pound thing, since there is no scale in my toilet, etc.

The other day I made a maple frosted soy-cream cake. I realize it looks identical to my other cake. I must hire a designer.
I used a lot of water for the washing of the plastic frosting thingys, but next time I'll just throw them away.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake & other things I made for Rob's birthday

I decided to make my first ice-cream cake for the occasion of Rob's birthday. I'm not a huge fan of birthdays, but I love Rob and sweets, so really it was the perfect opportunity. To make the cake, I used 2 containers of PB & Chocolate Soy Delicious and squished them down over a bed of Whole Foods chocolate & vanilla sandwich cookies.
Then, I made a peanut butter icing out of chunky peanut butter, earth balance spread, & powdered sugar, and spread that on top.
Next, I melted some Whole Foods brand chocolate chips and drizzled that on top of the icing.
Last, I decorated with a vanilla buttercream frosting.

I realize the picture looks like something a kid threw together during 3rd grade art class, but damn was it good.
I was inspired to make an ice cream cake after seeing a friend's Baked Alaska. I was trying to think of how I would imitate the egg white coating on the traditional Baked Alaska, and Bonnie, an extremely experienced & talented baker, unlike yours truly, suggested I try marshmallow fluff. As you might know, there is an excellent vegan version of this called "RiceMellow Cream"

which is quite good out of the jar. If, like me, you lack control completely, you might find yourself eating 3/4 of the tub and feeling a pain in your stomach. Don't be like me.

Also for Rob's birthday I made some Field Roast pups. Or Wellingtons, a great chef told me they were called.

From the same type of biscuit dough, I fashioned a heart biscuit during Rob's birthday week (thanks Anne for the idea of extending the bday celebration for an entire week) and made biscuits & gravy.

One of Rob's favorite dishes in Greece is something my aunt Katie makes called "YemistA." It is basically stuffed tomatoes and green peppers, loaded with rice, sauce, potatoes, and she adds raisins. I didn't have any rice on hand, so I stuffed these with orzo, texturized vegetable protein, potatoes, and a nice Tom Ka sauce I got from the Asian store. Though I hate green peppers, I must say that they infused quite a nice flavor into the stuffing, and this made the entire package edible and this recipe repeat-worthy.

I don't recall if this pie was a part of Rob's bday week. I think he bought the blackberries and said something like, "I thought maybe you could make a pie for my birthday." He did not know I was going to surprise him with the ice cream cake. So I made this:

I've done better. I hope. It was okay, but needed a bit more sweetening.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

100 Degrees? Have some tea. Adam likes it.

Pomegranate Iced Tea.

From Wikipedia:
The Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall. The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region and the Caucasus since ancient times.


I only knew the pomegranate by its Greek name, "Rodthi," (ροδι) for many years. I first had a pomegranate while staying in a small room on the island of Crete. The home owner cut one up and put it on a small plate for me while I was swimming, so when I came in from the sea I saw this odd thing on the table. It wasn't quite clear (to me) how to eat it, but with anything uncertain, sometimes it is best just to dive in. The seeds were like little pink raindrops and though the taste isn't as great as, say, a strawberry, I give this little fruit credit for presentation.

But apparently, it was good enough for Eve. Also from Wikipedia:

It is more likely that the Forbidden fruit from the Judaeo-Christian story of Genesis was a pomegranate rather than an apple, given its etymology and the location's assumed habitat.

So Eve would have had to work a lot harder to get Adam to take that first bite. Or it would have taken him awhile to get it all opened up. I hereby surmise that he had time to think about his decision, and thus we of women-kind are absolved of all fault. What a relief.

I made the above-pictured Pomegranate tea using tea bags given to me by a kind person. I boiled down some sugar, and let the tea bags steep in that. Then, I added some lemon for an extra layer of flavor. It was just the right thing for heat stroke.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

vegan food of the misc-misc

Hot apple pie with vanilla rice cream.

I've been a bit lazy recently about posting. I thought I'd just put up some random pictures of food I've made recently. It really can't get more exciting than this.

I experimented and made some fresh tortillas out of the masa I had around the house. It came out pretty good. Instead of deep frying it, I baked it with a light layer of olive oil. On top I added some bok choy leaves, home-soaked black beans (cooked, seasoned, then refried), cumin-spiced tofu, olives, & roasted carrots. Pretty random, as usual.

Cinnamon rolls and lemon-improv rolls.

Spring-roll type things. I had some of these spring roll wrappers lying around, so I stuffed them with cabbage, bok choy, tofu, ginger oil, etc, and toasted them with olive oil & garlic. Pretty darned good.